Music from the past, online abuse, girl and boy racers – plus the inner lives of primary school children – were among the subjects tackled by films featured in the IDFA’s Upcoming Catalan Documentaries strand.
Designed to showcase projects nearing completion, the online event kicked off with “I Am” – a heartwarming film that traces four children over eight years through their primary school journey.
The documentary’s director Patricia M. Felix then waited a further four years to make the final part of her project, capturing the teenagers’ reactions and comments about their younger selves.
Subjects include Mia, who must overcome dyslexia, and the charismatic Candella, who the children gravitate towards. There’s also class joker Manuel, who experiences issues when two of his close friends leave, and Neil, an adopted child from Russia who starts his school years drawing angry monster houses, and finishes them by writing and performing a play about an alien trying to find his place in the world.
According to Felix, the 90-minute project, produced through Diana Toucedo Film (“Trinta Lumes”) and WKND (which makes TV animation “Tender Metal” and feature “The Nice Unfaithful Husbands Club”), will be complete next year. The project is also looking for international distributors.
“Pepi Fandango” is one of two documentaries that featured music in the session, although a part-musical documentary, part-road movie and part flashback to the Holocaust, Lucija’s Stojevic’s film doesn’t easily fit into any category.
Made through Barcelona-based Noon Films, it tells the story of Pepi, separated from his father as a small boy and sent to a concentration camp where he met the incarcerated children of Spanish Civil War Republicans.
There, the children could be heard singing flamenco music across the walls to the adult camp to let them know that they were still alive. As an older adult this joyful music continues to haunts Pepi, so he embarks on a journey from his home in Vienna to an Andalusian village to literally face the music that causes him so much pain.
According to Stojevic, whose previous doc “La Chana” won the IDFA Audience Award in 2016, around 75% of the film has been shot. He added that goals now including completing filming either on location in Vienna and Barcelona or through archive, if COVID-19 restrictions prevent filming.
The project is also interested in partnering with broadcasters and distributors from Austria, Germany and France.
The second film for which music is the beating heart is Marta Lallana’s “Muyeres,” which looks at the songs and music originating from women in the Asturian mountains, at a point in time when their traditions are in danger of dying out.
Contemporary musician Raül Refree makes it his mission to track down some of these women to complete a preservation project that his grandfather started recording years ago.
According to Lallana, the presence of Refree is more of an inciting incident than a narrative device, as she plans to create “an unconventional and poetic narrative” out of the material, which will feature four of the remaining women as well as the “ghostly voices” on Refree’s grandfather’s recordings.
Producer Alejandro Cassilo added that Spanish state cinema aid has already covered 50% of the budget, and the plan is to start shooting next spring.
Last year Patricia Franquesa received an email from a hacker demanding a ransom in return for not publishing intimate photos of her that were taken from her stolen computer.
The Catalan-funded project “Olé Mi Coño” is the filmmaker’s attempt to wrestle back control over the situation. Franquesa started to record a visual collage of her online life during this crisis – comprising of emails and the calls to the police – which she is now turning into what she describes as a “thriller documentary.”
Sales agency Rise and Shine has already boarded this gripping story, which is in development at two Spanish producers: Gadea Films – through which Franquesa co-produced her first production “La Mami” and Barcelona-based Ringo Media (whose credits include “Matria”).
The 65-minute project is now looking for financiers to stump up the remaining €200,000 ($240,000) needed to complete the budget, including broadcasters, streaming platforms and international sales agents. The film is also looking to connect with film festival programmers.
Laura Sistero’s documentary “Tolyatti Adrift,” meanwhile, follows a year in the life of four teenage “drifters” who eat, breathe and race cars.
They all hail from Tolyatti, a city in Russia once known for its burgeoning car industry, which has since fallen into decline.
From this, a new movement, “Boyevaya Klassika,” emerges, which sees young people rescue and soup up old cars from local factories. One of them is trying to dodge military service while another has fled from alcoholic parents. A third aims to become the movement’s first female driver.
Sistero, an ad director who combines her commercial work with more personal projects, is working with Barcelona-based creative group Boobaloo Films on the project, which already has a number of partners attached including: Les Films d’Ici, Radio Canada, France Télévisions, TV3, ICAA film fund, and CNC Cosip, Procirep. Having raised €167,000 ($199,000) of its estimated €208,567 ($250,000) budget, the feature is now looking for sales agents, TV pre-sales and international distribution.